Senator McCain started out by expressing his astonishment at the John Fund column today which claimed that he would not appoint a Supreme Court Justice like Samuel Alito. He pointed out that he was an early and enthusiastic backer of Alito and that his support may have been crucial with only 57 votes to confirm in the Senate. He joked that he probably shouldn't talk about cloning Alito and Roberts given the other issues that raises, but he would be looking for judges cut from the same cloth.
I got one of the early questions today and I asked him about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. This issue has come up several times recently and as a long-time supporter of the Swiftees I wanted to confirm that he revised and extended his remarks after the first ad, which he quite clearly did not appreciate. He stated that his objection was solely to the focus on Kerry's combat record, and that when they moved on to the antiwar activities that Kerry engaged in after Vietnam, he felt that was fair game. This is a reasonable point, and one that we mostly tried to stick to ourselves at the Kerry Haters blog (although once the can of worms was opened it was impossible not to take a peek inside).
Update: Here's the first Swift Boat Vets ad:
As you can see, it is very much focused on his service in Vietnam. Now let me stress here that many of us, myself included, deliberately tried to ignore his Vietnam service in analyzing John Kerry. We didn't really want to get into whether he earned this medal or that medal, because he had been there and we hadn't. The same did not apply to the Swiftees, and I felt they very much had strong cases on several of the incidents for which Kerry received awards. But if you remember, the story that really took hold was Christmas in Cambodia, which was not mentioned in that ad, but was mentioned in the first released chapter of Unfit for Command
So let's take a look at a later ad, after the POWs had joined up with the Swiftees:
As you can see, the focus is on the testimony and the antiwar activities.
Although, as I have said in the past, Senator McCain seems the same when he's down in the polls as when (now) he's up, he did brighten noticeably when the topic came up of President Bush instructing federal agencies to ignore earmarks that have been added in conference reports. This was very clearly something that pleased him as much if not more than his personal victories in South Carolina and New Hampshire.
I also loved his response when somebody asked him about Rudy Giuliani's campaign, which apparently made an issue out of the New York Times endorsement of McCain rather than hizzoner. He replied that he was happy they agree with him, but he doesn't agree with them.